Hello all, well, it's finally here, the real season. Can't wait. Headed to Washington tomorrow. So, where were we?
How many more goals do you think Zach Parise would have if he played in an offense like the Penguins or Capitals and not the Devils' boring defensive minded trap style scheme?
u-charlie; It's a good question, maybe 10 more. Maybe not. Look at Marian Gaborik who had 42 a couple of years ago under Jacques Lemaire in Minneosta but had only 42 this year in a more up-tempo style. Think about Scott Gomez's production since he left New Jersey - he's never really got to where he was while playing in 'boring' New Jersey. Weird how it works sometime, eh? Ilya Kovalchuk has done okay, more than a point a game for the Devils, about what he did in Atlanta.
I know Gaborik has terrible career numbers in the shootout, but he's your best goal scorer and he has to be out there!!!!!
Marc; Like leaving Gretzky on the bench in Nagano in '98. Jokinen's numbers in the shootout were good enough but bad karma to trust your entire season to a guy who has never, ever delivered in the clutch. Sorry.
Scott: Is any NHL analyst outside of Arizona going to have the guts to pick the Coyotes over Detroit?
Shane; My good friend Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail picked the 'Yotes in seven. I wish I had that nerve - and trust me I don't mind a long-shot or two - but I just couldn't see it happening with the Wings playing as well as they are. I would love to see the Coyotes roll but somehow I don't think it's in the cards. Good on Eric if he's right though.
Scott, when will there be an NHL team back in Quebec? We're building a new arena!
Jacques; If you build it they will come. That simple.
Who do you like in the match up of San Jose vs Colorado? What weakness can the Aves exploit against the Sharks? Thanks!
Brian; I think it'll be an absolute shocker if the Sharks don't have their way with the Avs. The only way it doesn't happen is if the Avs get to Evgeni Nabokov early and the Sharks start thinking about all the times they've spit the bit in the playoffs. I don't see it happening though.
Let me guess Scott, your upset pick in the East is the Flyers over the Devils?
Andrew; I hate to be so transparent. Have the Flyers in seven. Also took the Kings in seven over Vancouver. Of course, last season I was also the only person, outside of John Davidson perhaps, who thought the Blues would beat Vancouver so we'll see.
Scott,Any thoughts on who the Red Wings will put in goal for the playoffs? Stick with Jimmy Howard and use Osgood as a backup or go with the experience of Osgood? And who's your pick in that series?
Dave; No question Jimmy Howard will start. No question if the goes sideways Mike Babcock won't hesitate to go to Osgood. As I mentioned earlier I wish I could pick the Coyotes but the Wings have just got too much going on up front and assuming Howard doesn't blow a tire I think it's too big a mountaint to climb for the plucky Coyotes.
Scott, with a huge win yesterday against the Rangers, do you see the Flyers riding that momentum into the series against New Jersey? I know regular season means nothing at this point, but I can't help but think the Flyers got the best matchup for themselves... Flyers in 6?
Bob; I'm not sure I believe in momentum from one regular season game to the playoffs but I do agree this might be the best match-up for the Flyers. Clearly Brian Boucher is going to have to continue to play like he did during the last week of the regular season if the Flyers are going to have a chance but look at their line-up and I think they match up very well against the Devils. Should be fun.
wow scottie a lot of hating on you lately in these chats! so much anger...my question: how much punishment do you think the big boys of nashville's blue line will inflict on chicago's forwards? it concerns me more than a little bit.
tad; Well, you go out with the big dogs you come home crying I always say. It is the one area that the Predators hold an edge on the 'Hawks especially with Brian Campbell and Kim Johnsson out of action for Chicago. I'm pretty sure the Blackhawks won't be taking Nashville lightly, you play each other six times a year and you have built in respect. Still, it will take a near perfect turn for Pekka Rinne and the Preds to beat the Blackhawks.
I was at the Stars last home game of the season, and if it was Modano's last home game, it sure was a great note to end on! When it's all said and dine, does Mike Modano go down as the best American born player to ever play the game of hockey?
Adam; I think Chris Chelios would have to enter into the discussion and I think the interesting thing is that there are so many good young American players it may be in 10 or 15 years we're talking in different terms. Still, no doubting Modano's pedigree and his impact on the game. I think he's Hall of Fame bound.
Scott Hartnell will take a stupid penalty and cost the Flyers the series...Count on it.
Joe; Ha, ha. You might not be far off. He did a year ago against Pittsburgh. If he contains himself it will go a long ways to keeping the Flyers' playoff alive.
Getting into the playoffs will get me off the hook when it comes to overpaying forwards, handin out NTC's like candy, and ignoring the teams constant goalie issues right?
Paul; Rest easy. You're good to go next year. (P.S. I'd start looking for a tender now, though, if I was you.)
Scott, if you are Joel Quenville, who do you put in goal. Niemi or Huet?
Garrett; I go with Nikolai Khabibulin. Oh, that was last year. No doubt it's Niemi. Question is how long is his leash? One off game? Two? Remember it was Nashville that bounced Dominik Hasek from the Detroit goal two years ago.
Scott - Why the perpetual hate on the Devils? You've never picked them to win anything since you've been writing for ESPN!
John; Not really a hate on for the Devils but history has shown they are not built for the playoffs. Since 2003 they have yet to advance beyond the second round. It's a little like the Sharks, prove me wrong. Perhaps this is the spring.
So you seriously think that LA will eliminate Canucks....
Taipan; Do you seriously think Roberto Luongo can go the distance?
Is the 3-6 match up in the west not going to be the most interesting series of the first round?
joe; Further to the last question, people seem to ignore the fact the Kings had 103 points. They are skilled and their blue line is more skilled and certainly healthier than the Canucks'. Yes, Jonathan Quick took a few weeks off after the Olympics but has Luongo been much better, really?
No denying Alexander Ovechkin is a great player, but it seems when big games come around he seems to go onto the backburner and doesn't perform like one would think he would. Examples being Russia-Canada game, game seven last year versus the Penguins, and even recently with his zero point game against Boston. Do you think he will break this streak of high pressure blunders or step up his game to the clutch performance Crosby or Miller?
Stephen; Not sure I totally agree with your premise but I understand where you're coming from. Ovechkin was pretty darned good in that second-round series against Pittsburgh last year. Very good in fact. True, he didn't deliver in Game 7 and that cost the Caps. And he wasn't very good at the Olympics. So, I agree that there is significant pressure on Ovechkin to deliver in the clutch. Should be fun.
what do you believe is the one big move the Rangers need to make for next year besides a good backup to lundqvist?
Scott; How about a GM that doesn't change game plans every six or seven months and that isn't living on successes of a generation ago?
What will the Habs do with their goalie situation during the offseason?
Geoff; I think some of it will depend on how Jaroslav Halak performs in the coming days. If he plays well (even if the Habs lose) then maybe they bite the bullet and trade Carey Price. I think in their heart of hearts the Habs don't want to give up on Price just yet. Certainly, though, one will be dealt by or at the draft.
Scott, Lindy has the boys ready to prove everyone wrong. The Sabres can contend for the East!
Scott; No question the Sabres are for real. If, as I have mapped out, the Flyers upset the Devils, I forsee a Sabres/Pens second round which should be fun. Do they have enough leadership and scoring? That's the question.
Any chance we see Ersberg if Quick is ineffective Thur night?
Jeff; Maybe. I think, though, unless Quick is dreadful, he's in for the long haul. Not sure you can make that switch more than once. ie. If you pull Quick you've got to be prepared to stay with Ersberg and I'm not sure the Kings are there yet.
You have to feel bad for Phoenix. They have a fantastic year and nearly overtake the Sharks in the division... and they are rewarded with Detroit in the 1st round. Could they have gotten a worse draw then the Red Wings?
Joe; No. This is as bad as it gets for the Coyotes.
The NHL, as owners of the Coyotes, has a vested interest in seeing the Coyotes advance in the playoff. You don't think the officials (particularly in the war room in Toronto) won't do everything they can to ensure that Phoenix beats Detroit?
Olie; Get a grip man.
You've picked the Kings to beat the Canucks in seven. Who do you see making the biggest difference for them?
Neil; Not to provide non-stop rationalization of my picks but; the Kings have a lot of experience sprinkled in their line-up with Ryan Smyth, Sean O'Donnell, Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll and even Michal Handzus who once upon a time was part of a Flyers team that went to Game 7 of an Eastern Conference final with Philly. So, I think when push comes to shove they will respond. And I think Drew Doughty is ready for this stage. He's a monster.
Dear Scott,First of all love your chats, im a weekly reader but a first time poster... so here goes.Im a die hard Sharks fan, but ill play devils advocate here... Why should i believe the sharks string of april busts will end this year? Could the changing of a "C" really alter a team mindset and inspire a group to play to their potential when it really matters? Or should we as sharks fans be more cautious than optimistic. Thanks.Jon
Jon; I'm with you; not sure it will happen this spring or not. But I think the Avs are the perfect way to start. Or they should be. Young, worn out goaltender, staggered into the post-season. I think the issue is getting the killer mentality and staying with it. Having spent a lot of time around the Pens and Wings the past couple of springs it's amazing how the small stuff never bothers them. The leaders lead, the players play. Simple unless you don't have it. Second round will be where the rubber hits the road for the Sharks. In my grid I have them going to the conference final against Chicago for what it's worth.
Do you think this will be Nick Lidstroms last year?
Brodie; I don't think so. Just a feeling. He has had a great second half which I think may encourage him to give it one more go.
Where is the New York Islanders Minor League Hockey Team Located at?
Chris; Without looking it up (how lazy is that?) I think it's still Bridgeport.
caps really had nothing to play for over the final 7 or 8 games and they rested mike green quite a bit. do you forecast a sluggish start like they have the past two postseasons?
chris; Headed to D.C. tomorrow morning and was wondering the same thing but I don't think so. Pretty hungry bunch there.
Am I alone here or do you see the Caps having issues with the Canadiens? I think the Caps win in 6 (avoiding a 4th consecutive 7 game series), but it'll be a struggle.
Jeff; Not suggesting you're alone. Really. But, no. I don't forsee the Caps having any trouble whatsoever. None. Zero. Five games maximum. And I say that only to prevent a torrent of hate mail from Hab fans.
A. How do you see Kovalchuk performing in the playoffs?B. Where do you see him landing if he does well and the Devils progress past the first round of the playoffs?
Dan; One of the great storylines of the playoffs I think. He lit it up down the stretch and if he can get the Devils over the hump his market value will be greatly enhanced. I still think Los Angeles takes a run at him. Maybe New York pending what happens with the rest of their bloated contracts in the off-season.
You just said earlier that you picked the flyers over devils...however, you have in your series page the devils over the flyers in 7 -- which is it bud?
Brian; I didn't do that preview. Pierre LeBrun did and I think he picked Devils in seven.
Scott, Its clear you have your mind made up on who is going to advance now can you give us your prediction each round?
Matt; Here's what I came up withPens in sixCaps in fiveFlyers in sevenSabres in five (i think, maybe six)Detroit in sixSan Jose in fiveKings in sevenChicago in six (i think)
Scott, I know this question comes up every year, but is it better to be in playoff mode for the last weeks heading into the playoffs (like the Red Wings), or having some time to rest guys (like the Caps)?
Tom; I think in general it's better to be playing at a high level rather than try and reach a higher level once the playoffs start. But there's no guarantee. The Sharks have played well heading into the playoffs in recent years and still can't get over the hump. Edmonton nearly missed the playoffs altogether and in fact would have if Vancouver wasn't worse in the final week and they go to Game 7 of the Cup final in '06. But especially for younger teams I think it's better to hit the ground running rather than build up speed.
Is it safe to say that Gretzky was a bad coach, or Tippett has just done unbelievable things with the coyotes?
Robert; I'm not sure it's that simple. Gretzky's last squad was so young. Too young obviously. This year all those kids are playing in the AHL and Tippett's team is a more veteran - not necessarily more talented mind you - squad. That said, Dave Tippett is a magician getting what he's got out of that line-up on a nightly basis. A magician. You can start engraving the Jack Adams Trophy right now.
Which first round series will be the most entertaining to watch? The most nerve wrecking? The snoozer?
Loup; I like the Red Wings/Phoenix series because I think every game will be achingly close. Lots of overtime possible. Great goaltending for sure. And I'm really curious about the Vancouver/Los Angeles series, especially if the Kings can sneak a game early to put the pressure on. As for boring? Well, it may not be boring but it'll be quick, Washington and Montreal. I think a lot of people will say Boston/Buffalo will be boring but the Bruins have played with a lot of moxy down the stretch and have great goaltending. Could be some good OT action there, too.
Scotty,Been a few weeks of your mentioning LA and NY as players for Kovalchuk in the off season... not the Bruins? is Chiarelli really that averse to finally signing ao true scorer?I like the 60% chance they have at Hall or Seguin, but... that's it? They need more than one rookie scorer.
RJ; The Bruins will definitely be looking to shore up their offense but I'm not really sure Kovalchuk fits their model either style wise or economically. No question he won't get what he left on the table in Atlanta but I'm not sure he's really a Bruin kind of guy. Could be wrong, of course.
You really think the Sabres will beat the Bruins in 5-6 games? I think that they are on a roll right now and I think they can push a game 7 and if they do I think they have a higher chance of winning.... Why do you think the Sabres will knock them out in 5 games?
Ashley; I think the Sabres are in a pretty good zone now and Ryan Miller is as good as anyone in the league - even young Tuukka Rask who has been terrific. Bottom line is that at some point the lack of offense is going to catch up with the Bruins.
who is playing for the cup when it is all over?
Brian; In my bracket (which is the only one that matters right now of course) I have Pittsburgh and Chicago squaring off in the final.
Its playoff time...will Marc-Andre Fleury start being consistent?Go Pens!!
Joe; Yes. I think he will.
Bob Murray recently said that Randy Carlylse will be back as the Ducks coach next year. Good move?
Chris; I think so. Lots of player change this year, injuries to guys like Selanne and Getzlaf. I would think the Ducks will need to get off to a pretty good start though for Randy to enjoy continued job security. Let's not forget he did bring a Cup home not too long ago.
Okay folks, let's see how this all turns out. See you next week.